[19:34] <+DaleE> My name is Dale Easterling, proprietor of BTD (Before the Dawn) Press. I began writing over 25 years ago with a comic book idea, followed by a many screenplays over the decades that followed. I have covered a wide range of mediums since then and as of last year I have branched out into gaming books. This venture began as creating D&D 5e conversions and homebr
[19:34] <+DaleE> supplements – such as Star Wars, Vampire: The Masquerade, and the Wild West. I wrote The Living, an original RPG, at the end of last year.
[19:37] <+DaleE> “The Living” is a post-apocalyptic tabletop RPG. Although set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, The Living features a plethora of skills and abilities specifically designed to be used with and against living characters. From persuasion to resources, hacking to leadership, medicine to religion, there are nearly limitless situations and areas of
[19:38] <+DaleE> expertise in which zombies are the least of your concerns. In “The Living” there is an in-depth skill system, which is freeform and highly customizable. There are no classes, no races, and no statistics. Everything is done and measured by skills alone.
[19:39] <+DaleE> It is called “The Living” because the focus of the system and setting itself is intended to be on the survivors and human stories. Not specifically zombies or monsters.
[19:39] <+DaleE> (Now done)
[19:39] <~Dan> Thanks, DaleE! The floor is open to questions!
[19:40] <~Dan> What is the premise of the setting’s zombie apocalypse?
[19:42] <+DaleE> The game itself doesn’t lend toward one particular setting, and leaves that to Narrator (GM) preference. Three typical scenarios are outlined in the book: Outbreak, Apocalypse, and Last Hope.
[19:43] <+DaleE> Outbreak would involve the zombie or viral outbreak happening in the present. Characters begin with normal lives when everything goes horribly wrong. Apocalypse is the height of the zombie or vial outbreak, where the world is
[19:43] <+DaleE> essentially overrun. Last Hope is more post-apocalyptic, where zombies may be less of an immediate threat. Survivors are few and are either nomadic or cling to small pockets of civilization for survival.
[19:44] <+DaleE> BTD Press’ pending inaugural campaign, “Quarantine”, is set in the Last Hope scenario.
[19:44] <+DaleE> (Done)
[19:45] <~Dan> What is the cause for the zombie outbreak, though? What kind(s) of zombies are we talking about?
[19:47] <+DaleE> There is a Bestiary of zombie types, or at least common examples. These include your typical slow-moving Shufflers, your fast and deadly Runners, your toxic Pukers, undead animals, etc. The cause of the outbreak is a narrative choice, and not forced in the campaign setting. “The Living” is more of the player’s handbook, not a campaign in itself.
[19:47] <+DaleE> It could be viral, spiritual, alien, technological, or anything else a future GM may choose.
[19:47] <+DaleE> (Done)
[19:48] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:49] <+DaleE> I do. There is a Tribality.com article featuring a character creation video and sample character sheets here: (Link: http://www.tribality.com/2017/08/18/the-living-preview-part-3-character-creation/)http://www.tribality.com/2017/08/18/the-living-preview-part-3-character-creation/
[19:50] <+DaleE> (Done)
[19:51] <~Dan> So it looks like you’ve subsumed what would be attributes in other games into skills (like Strength, for example).
[19:53] <~Dan> What is the game’s mechanic?
[19:54] <+DaleE> Correct. Instead players use skill points to purchase skills. There are 9 Skill Trees, each one with four skill branches. Strength, for example, is a branch in the Athletics skill tree. Each branch has 5 levels.
[19:54] <+DaleE> So you could purchase up to 5 levels of Strength, each one providing extra damage on melee attacks, the ability to knock out opponents, etc.
[19:55] <+DaleE> (Done with 1st question)
[19:57] <+DaleE> The entire game uses 1 or 2 d20s for all rolls. Usually only 1d20. Results are graded on a failure (2-9), minor success (10-14), major success (15-19), critical failure (1) or success (20).
[19:57] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[19:58] <+DaleE> Some skills make the rolls Blessed (roll 2d20 and pick the higher result) or Cursed (lower). Others grant Boons (lowering minor success to 5) and some Flaws apply Losses (increases minor success to 15).
[19:58] <+DaleE> (Done)
[19:59] <~Dan> What do skills do normally, though? Add to the d20 rolls?
[20:01] <+DaleE> No. They can raise or lower your target number. So typically for any kind of success you aim for a 10 or higher. Most skills can change that number to a 5 a certain number of times per day.
[20:02] <+DaleE> There are 8 core situations that necessitate the roll of a d20 – Attacking, Coaxing, Evading, Resisting Contagion, Resisting Fear, using Stealth, performing a Stunt, and exhibiting Tech Mastery. The particular skills you have can affect those specific rolls.
[20:02] <~Dan> Hmm…
[20:02] <+DaleE> For example, having Athletics skills can lower your DC on an Athletics d20 from 10 to 5. Tactics can lower the number for a Stealth roll. Charisma can lower the number for a Coax roll, etc.
[20:03] <+DaleE> (done)
[20:03] <~Dan> But what does the rating of the skill signify?
[20:05] <+DaleE> It depends on the skill. Higher ranks of the Pistol skill grant extra attacks, trick shot maneuvers, and other benefits. Farming increases the number of food units you can produce and store. Higher levels of Encumbrance grant more carrying capacity.
[20:05] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:06] <~Dan> But no skill ever has an effect greater than 5 on the roll of a single d20?
[20:08] <+DaleE> Correct. However again, they can also be Blessed. It’s akin to “advantage” in D&D 5e. So a skill could potentially have a DC lowered to 5 and also have the better of 2 rolls.
[20:08] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:08] <~Dan> Can you walk us through combat?
[20:11] <+DaleE> Sure. Characters have an action, a move, a bonus action, and a reaction. Evasion is a reaction, and also one of the 8 rolls one can make. There is no Armor Class. Likewise, enemies do not attack. Everything comes down to the PC and their abilities.
[20:12] <~Dan> Does that mean that no enemy is any better at attacking than any other?
[20:12] <+DaleE> So say a character is approached by 2 zombies. Zombies have an attack range (adjacent) and the ability to create fear. So the Character can, on their turn, use their action to attack and reaction(s) to avoid getting hit (Evasion roll) and getting scared (Resist Fear).
[20:13] <+DaleE> Correct. But they can do more damage, cause hindrances, cause other effects, or instill penalties such as Losses/Curses on evasion rolls.
[20:14] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:15] <~Dan> So how would you simulate a human enemy who’s a sharpshooter, for example?
[20:18] <+DaleE> First of all, if the sharpshooter isn’t seen then the PC’s Evasion roll is Cursed. On top of that a sharpshooter could use Careful Aim, causing the PC to have a Loss on their roll as well. So a PC targeted by a sniper would not only need a 15+ on a d20, but would take the lower of 2 rolls to do it.
[20:18] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:20] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:21] <~Dan> What would you say The Living offers that other zombie RPGs do not?
[20:23] <+DaleE> It offers a post-apocalyptic setting that doesn’t necessarily put zombies at the forefront. There is more to it that killing and avoiding being killed. There is food to acquire. Hunting. Driving. Fuel efficiency. Charisma. Leadership. Tactics. Many other aspects and avenues to explore.
[20:24] <+DaleE> Characters don’t have to be monster hunters. They could be hackers trying to infiltrate the government that has been keeping secrets. Or the police officer that is a beacon of hope and a level head. The doctor who keeps the zombie plague at bay and patches up the fighters.
[20:24] * ~Dan nods
[20:25] <~Dan> Do you think The Living does this better than, say, All Flesh Must Be Eaten?
[20:25] <+DaleE> A civilian thrown into an epidemic is completely logical for this scenario. As is a trained soldier, a former inmate, or a politician trying to save face.
[20:26] <+DaleE> I honestly have not seen all of the All Flesh materials, so I can’t make a definitive comment on that. However, from what I have seen, The Living does have more general skill options and less zombie-centric mechanics.
[20:26] <+DaleE> (Done x2)
[20:29] <~Dan> Is it your intention to make this the start of a whole game line?
[20:31] <+DaleE> Absolutely. We have ideas for full campaign modules, expansions (such as the Old West), and even looking into licensed properties for affiliate properties if things go well. It is our intent to launch a Living franchise if this does well.
[20:31] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:32] <~Dan> Any plans to use the system for anything beyond zombies?
[20:34] <+DaleE> Yes. The Old West setting, for example, will likely have a limited zombie involvement. The mechanics for resisting zombie contagion would be applied to rampant diseases at the time, but all other skills (besides Technology) would still apply.
[20:35] <+DaleE> But by added skill trees or adapting the others, the game mechanics could be used for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Historical periods, etc.
[20:35] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:36] <~Dan> Oh, I forgot to ask regarding combat: How does damage work?
[20:38] <+DaleE> Whenever you are subject to an attack or an area effect – such as falling debris or an explosion, roll a d20 to evade it. On a minor success, you take half damage, rounded up (though effects such as poison or Contagion, apply as normal). On a major success, the attack misses you completely.
[20:38] <+DaleE> On a critical success, you can move up to your base movement speed as part of your reaction. On a critical failure, you take double damage and secondary effects automatically apply.
[20:38] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:39] <~Dan> (Howdy, HDP_Dave!)
[20:41] <~Dan> Do you have a backup plan if the KS doesn’t succeed?
[20:42] <+DaleE> Regroup. Reassess. Relaunch again, potentially with a marketing advisor. So far it’s been gradually picking up steam, so we’re just hoping it keeps increasing until we make it all the way.
[20:42] * ~Dan nods
[20:42] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:43] <~Dan> By the way, HDP_Dave here is tomorrow’s Q&A guest. 🙂
[20:45] <+HDP_Dave> Hey, I’m just here to learn about the Living…. I’ve been meaning to get a life.
[20:45] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:46] <+DaleE> I’d say you’ve got mighty good taste in your life, my friend. 😉
[20:48] <~Dan> (wb, Monochrome_Tide)
[20:48] <~Dan> Does the game have any kind of fate point mechanic?
[20:53] <~Dan> (Still there, DaleE?)
[20:53] <+DaleE> As in acquired points that can be spent to provide additional effects to rolls? No. Not outside of the skills themselves. Which is why there are so many options. With 8 skill trees, 4 branches each, plus bonuses for the trees themselves, that provides over 70 areas of specialty.
[20:54] <+DaleE> (Done)
[20:55] <+HDP_Dave> From the opening video it sounds like characters are starting with only a small slice of possible options for skills. What would a typical band of survivors look like?
[20:58] <+DaleE> Correct. They’d be akin to Level 1 rookies working together. There are 13 background to choose from which will help give some direction and skill basis, so not everyone was a delivery driver or plumber. You could have a Soldier, a Doctor, a Priest, and a Police Officer in the party. Or toss in an inmate, politician, celebrity, farmer, or wandering survivor.
[20:59] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:00] <~Dan> Since you still have some time, have you considered a soft relaunch adding in some early adopter levels?
[21:01] <+HDP_Dave> Do backgrounds determine starting Skills or do they add more to the character?
[21:01] <+DaleE> I have. I will need to look more into the process of what that entails, but I do recognize that as an options.
[21:03] <+DaleE> Backgrounds do indeed. Each of the backgrounds provides 3 specific skills, depending on the background. For example, Government Agent has Charisma (Intimidation), Combat (Pistols), and Tactics (Maneuvers). The only one that is different is the Civilians. Civilians only have 2 skills to start, but they can be any 2 they want. Provides some flexibility.
[21:03] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:05] <~Dan> You touched on this earlier, but how much of a bestiary do you include?
[21:06] <+DaleE> The bestiary includes 8 sample zombies and 8 sample NPCs, with notes on creating unique ones or adapting others.
[21:06] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:08] <+HDP_Dave> What’s your favorite aspect of a play session?
[21:10] <+DaleE> A standard session? Probably the laughter and camaraderie that comes from gaming. Being able to joke about failures and not feel threatened by successes. But even before game sessions, I personally enjoy doing backstory work and roleplaying by text to establish characters and their personalities. Developing a character and fine-tuning their motivations is
[21:10] <+DaleE> my favorite part of the gaming experience.
[21:10] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:14] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:15] <+DaleE> There are really only two other aspects of the mechanics that weren’t touched on: Will Points and Equipment.
[21:15] <~Dan> Please do!
[21:17] <+DaleE> Will Points work like the Health Points, but are targeted by fear effects – such as being surrounded by undead or intimidated by living foes. If you are reduced to 0 WP you are essentially helpless. Either too terrified or shocked to do anything, even defend yourself. It adds another dynamic to combat besides just avoiding getting hit.
[21:18] <+DaleE> Because money is basically worthless in a post-apocalyptic scenario, there is no currency system in The Living. Characters are presumed to have found their starting gear somewhere. Your inventory is based on how much you can carry – which, like everything else, is determined and improved by skills.
[21:18] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:20] <+HDP_Dave> How does equipment impact the characters? I noticed in the video there were arrows pointing to how the shoes were acquired.
[21:21] <+DaleE> That was the artist’s personal motivations for the artwork. 🙂 Armor reduces the amount of damage taken, there is a long list of weapon types, and a contingent of tools such as computers, flashlights, a compass, canteens, etc. Though normally those are trivial pieces of equipment, in a survival situation they can mean life or death.
[21:21] <+DaleE> (Done)
[21:22] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, DaleE!
[21:23] <~Dan> As a reminder, those wanting to support my work can do so here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[21:23] <+DaleE> Thank you for having me!
[21:23] <~Dan> You’re welcome!
[21:24] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you!